Invest NI pledged £66m in state subsidies to call centres

Firstsource was offered �15m from Invest NI.
Firstsource was offered �15m from Invest NI.

Several Londonderry call centre operators, including Stream and Rigney Dolphin, which have since hung up their North Western headsets for good, were among 24 firms from the sector offered £66m in assistance from the taxpayer between 2002 and 2014.

The public committed an average of £5m a year in offers over the period to entice and sustain private sector contact centres over the period.

Two operators with call centres in Londonderry were amongst the top two beneficiaries of Invest NI grants since the state-aid body’s establishment 13 years ago.

These were Firstsource Solutions, which has been offered £15,374,150 in assistance and the Convergys Corporation, which has been offered £12,083,441.

Both operate call centres in Londonderry and Belfast.

Invest NI released details of all call centres in Northern Ireland that had grant support provided by Invest NI during the period April 1, 2002, to March 31, in response to a Freedom of Information request.

It said that because the inception of Invest NI was April 1, 2002, it couldn’t provide details of the amount of support offered before that date.

But it did provide figures for 24 firms who were offered taxpayer handouts after 2002.

These were: Abbey National (£893,000), Anderson Manning Associates Ltd. (£650,891), British Telecommunications PLC (£4,439,816), Censys Ltd. (£121,195), Concentrix Europe Ltd. (£5,775,868), Convergys Corporation £12,083,441), Firstsource Solutions UK Ltd. (£15,374,150), Fum Ltd. (£87,860), HCL BPO Services (NI) Ltd. (£5,663,441), Lakeland Trading Solutions Ltd. (£343,000), Mango Direct Marketing Ltd. (£192,500), Northern Bank Ltd. (£67,911), One Stop Data Ltd. (£131,234), Quinn Insurance Ltd. (£2,736,000), Rigney Dolphin Ltd. (£1,263,174), Santander UK PLC. (£131,558), SSE Airtricity Energy Supply (NI) Ltd. (£759,985), Stream International (NI) Ltd. £1,220,240), Teleperformance Ltd. (£9,920,682), Teletech UK Ltd. (£359,392), Tricord Ltd. (£45,792), Ulster Bank Ltd. (£180,000), Vguard International Ltd. (£119,951), Yell Ltd. (£834,000).

Five have since closed completely or gone out of business with the loss of 275 jobs. Offers of support made across a range of activities by Invest NI to all of these call centre projects during the period amounted to a total of £66m.